• Jewels at South Kensington auction at Christies

    Sale 5894

    Jewels at South Kensington

    8 September 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 203

    An Archaeological revival tassel brooch, by Giacinto Melillo

    Price Realised  


    An Archaeological revival tassel brooch, by Giacinto Melillo
    Designed as a cone with filigrée, wire and beadwork decoration supporting twin figures of Nike each holding a wreath and palm branch suspending a mulitiple chain link tassel fringe with granulated bead detail, adapted, circa 1860, French import marks for gold

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    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    Items which contain rubies or jadeite originating in Burma (Myanmar) may not be imported into the U.S. Please be advised that a purchasers inability to import any such item into the U.S. or any other country shall not constitute grounds for non-payment or cancellation of the sale. With respect to items that contain any other types of gemstones originating in Burma (e.g., sapphires), such items may be imported into the U.S., provided that the gemstones have been mounted or incorporated into jewellery outside of Burma and provided that the setting is not of a temporary nature (e.g., a string).

    Post Lot Text

    Giacinto Melillo (1845-1915)

    Starting young as a manager of Castellani's workshop in Naples, he took it over in 1870. His work is, naturally, of similar style as that of his great master. Like Castellani himself, he took inspiration from the Campana collection, an important collection of 929 mostly ancient jewels from Italy put together by Cavaliere Campana. When the Italian government accused the Cavaliere of (unfounded) maladministration, he was fined a large amount of money which could only be paid by way of selling his collection. The Castellanis took care of it until it was sold under pressure to the French government. Before its sale, the collection was exhibited and the Castellanis manufactured copies for sale to raise funds in order to pay the Cavaliere's debt. The present brooch was evidently inspired from one of Campana's Etruscan pair of ear pendants dating from the 4th century B.C. found at Bolsena and now in the Louvre Museum, Paris. Although Castellani also made a pair of ear pendants, the brooch versions by Melillo are much more detailed and of more harmonious design.

    Melillo won the Grand Prix and the Lgion d'Honneur for his work he showed at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris. Count Tyskiewicz in his Memories of an Old Collector praises Melillo's quality of workmanship stating that he has 'far surpassed the work of the Casa Castellani at Rome' (rf. Geoffrey Munn, Castellani and Giuliano: Revivalist Jewellers of the Nineteenth Century, pp. 159-160).

    It is lamentable that so many pieces by Melillo do in fact not bear his mark. For illustrations of the original, the Castellani ear pendants and two more elaborate brooches by Melillo cf. Susan Weber Soros and Stefanie Walker (eds.), Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jwelry (New Haven and London 2004), pp. 54 and 316 and Geoffrey Munn, Castellani and Giuliano: Revivalist Jewellers of the Nineteenth Century (London 1984), plate 124.